Monday, 30 May 2011

Teen Fiction with a Kiwi flavour

Sally was really impressed with Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey saying "It's one of the best pieces of New Zealand fantasy I've read for a long time." and she's not the first person to have said that about this book. Here is the rest of her review.

By that I mean not just a book written by a New Zealander, but set in New Zealand too. I think it's something that's hard to get right. Most times I feel like the New Zealand setting is superfluous - like the author feels obligated to set it in New Zealand, because they're a New Zealand author. Otherwise, the story could take place anywhere. In Guardian, where the story draws heavily on Maori myth and legend, the setting is not only essential, it's an asset.

Just a few months ago I was thinking that the Maori stories of patupaiarehe would make an interesting starting point for a fantasy novel - and then Anne put this on my desk, hinting (rather heavily) that wouldn't it just be lovely if I reviewed it. Just reading it on my lunch breaks soon became frustrating. I'm not good at nibbling away at books; I like to gobble them whole. So, about halfway through I took it home and finished it that night (somewhat ignoring the guests we had, but they're family so they should be used to me by now).

The theme running through the book is that the stories we're raised on shape us and the world we see. Because it's set in New Zealand that means a decent helping of Maori myth and legend. And while the well-known figures of Rangi, Papa and Maui make cameos, it's the lesser known race of the patupaiarehe who are the main antagonists.

Te Ara (Encyclopedia of New Zealand) describes patupaiarehe as "fairy-like creatures of the forests and mountain tops. Although they had some human attributes, patupaiarehe were regarded not as people but as supernatural beings (he iwi atua).They were seldom seen, and an air of mystery and secrecy still surrounds them." I hadn't heard of them until quite recently, but they immediately caught my imagination.

This book has a bit of everything: magic, adventure, romance, and a heroine with a black belt in tae kwan do. Our heroine, Ellie, is a teenager with the requisite self-esteem issues, but she's got enough fight and feistiness in her to make her a likeable and relatable character.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Top 5 for Friday - What's Hot on the Holds shelf

It's been another one of those busy weeks, when best laid plans get overtaken by events. And then there was the weather yesterday(foul). Which is my very sad excuse for it being Friday afternoon before the Top 5 is posted.

One of the things I'v noticed working in the Library is how what other people are reading is fascinating to our customers when they come in and pick up their books off the hold shelf. Just like our New Books and Recentlty Returned shelves, the Holds shelf is a great source of inspiration. After all, if someone else wants it (or if you see it more than twice on the hold shelf) it must be good. So that is my inspiration for today.

  1. Fall of Giants: Book one of the Century Trilogy (Ken Follett). Lisa almost did a dance in the workroom next to me when I put her request for this on her desk. So I am pretty sure I know what she will be doing this weekend. This first part of the trilogy "follows the fates of five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English and Welsh - as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage". Looks like something I might have to request.

  2. Dolci di Love (Sarah-Kate Lynch). Sarah-Kate braved the weather last night to come up to speak to a packed theatre at Matakana and all reports are that it was well worth everyone turning up. There are already several copies of this on the Holds shelf and I expect after last night there will be more. Manhattan workaholic comes to Tuscany to find her cheating husband. However the underground network of ancient widows in Montevedova are at work to get her a happy ending - whether she wants it or not.

  3. The Jefferson Key (Steve Berry). Several copies of this have been unpacked here this afternoon to go on the holds shelf. I have always been fascinated by the coincidences between the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. This book takes that one step further by including all four presidents who have been assassinated and weaves together a plot where Justice Department Operatives race across the nation to break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, concocted by Andrew Jackson and which may mean that these seemingly unrelated events were actually all part of a larger plan which still continues today.

  4. Knitting and cooking are just as popular as ever. Annabel Langbein's The Free Range Cook, any slow cooking or comfort food title and everything from beginners to advanced when it comes to knitting.

  5. DVD's are particularly popular at this time of year with people taking the chance to watch everything from the latest offerings like The King's Speech to some awesome documentaries (most of the free) to reliving old favourites The Onedin Line and Poldark. There really is something here for everyone.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Favourite Kiwi Music

What do your favourite Librarians listen to when it comes to Kiwi music? I flicked out an email to a random selection to give you an insight and maybe some ideas of new New Zealand artists and albums you can try out at your library.

Neil Finn - Mean to me - well that's Crowded House - but hey! isn't Neil Finn Crowded House?

Don't dream it's over by Crowded House

Che-Fu – Fade away : Rhythm, harmony, sentiment

Avalanche City - because my 6 yr old grandaughter and I can sing along together - both our favourites at the moment

The trouble with Kay - Sneaky Feelings. Makes me singalong

Lawrence Arabia - It's my kind of music.

Bic Runga, Sway, favourite album and artist for her voice, tune and words. Haunting quality

Dennis Marsh is my Favourite kiwi artist

This is just a small selection and keep coming back because it just might grow. Of course, which Librarian likes which music is something that you will have to work out for yourself.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Learning from a Distance

I had a particularly enjoyable evening last night, together with 150 other students ranging from youngsters to those with greying or no hair, who received their diplomas and degrees for study carried out with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. That's study by correspondence and self motivation at the same time as we are working, caring for families and carrying on with all the other things that life has to throw at us. So as you can imagine there were some huge smiles beaming across the stage and some jubilant reactions from graduates and their families as achievements were celebrated.

So I am going to take as my theme for the Top 5 today - Learning from a Distance and how your library can help you.

  1. Learning how to study again : a practical guide to study skills for mature students returning to education or distance learning / Catherine Dawson. For those returning (or thinking of returning) to education, it takes a bit to get your head around how it all works in the 21st Century. This book will help you.

  2. Studying at a Distance : A guide for students / Christine J. Talbot. Contents include Preparing for the task ahead -- Know yourself as a learner -- E-learning -- Practicalities of studying -- Getting support -- Resources for studying -- Making the most of your distance learning experience -- Doing your research project -- Course-specific information -- Understanding Learning.

  3. The learning revolution : a lifelong learning programme for the world's finest computer : your amazing brain / Gordon Dryden and Jeannette Vos. It's a book that's been around since the early 1990's but which has been reissued several times.

  4. Whoa, my boss is naked! : a career book for people who would never be caught dead reading a career book / Jake Greene. So it's not strictly for those who are, or have done, distance learning. But getting your qualification is not the end of the story - just the beginning of your journey. And you have to admit it's a bit of a catchy title. So even if you are not a member of the generation "born with a remote in their hand" you will still be able to read this and have a laugh.

  5. Easily the best : the life of Helen Connon (1857-1903) / Margaret Lovell-Smith. When you are studying, it's sometimes hard to fit in some reading for relaxation. It's also very hard to keep up the motivation. Give yourself a break and read a biography about some of the people who have been where you are, and succeeded. Helen was a New Zealander and was the first Honours Graduate in the British Empire when she received her Master of Arts degree in 1881. As you can imagine, it was not easy. Be inspired.

Libraries can also provide spaces to study, free computer/wifi access and help on finding those hard-to-locate resources. Your librarian is an information professional and we are here to help you (we also got a huge plug and message of support from Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse who was the guest speaker last night).

Congratulations to all my fellow graduates and those who received diplomas and certificates. Pat yourself on the back and take the weekend off.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Secrets and Suspense

Before you even notice the title These Things Hidden (Heather Gudenkauf) the words ‘Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this’ (Red Magazine) bounce off the cover at you. So in the interests of finding read-a-likes for all Jodi’s fans (of which I am sporadically one) while she works on her next novel, I took this book home over the weekend. And couldn’t put it down.

This is a story of secrets which are gradually revealed through the voices of four different women. Allison lost her reputation as a golden girl when she was sent to prison. Her sister Brynn is shy and quiet and also struggling with the events that sent Allison to prison. Charm is training to become a nurse while struggling to care for her step-dad, the only father she has ever known who is kind to her. Claire counts her blessings every day which include five year old Joshua, a miracle boy who fulfils her dream of motherhood.

It is young Joshua upon whom all the secrets and woman’s lives converge in this suspenseful page turner. Each chapter is told in the voice of one of the woman, it is easy to recognise each one and the chapters are short which keeps the pace of the novel going. I found I got very caught up with the characters. At times I wanted to slap them and at other times I cried for them.

If you like authors such as Jodi Picoult, Linwood Barclay, Sophie Hannah or Debbie Macomber, then this is a book you should definitely try.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Swimming in nostalgia for NZ Music Month

I am a child of the 70's and 80's when it comes to New Zealand music (which can sometimes be quite scary when I look at the vinyl that I am still hanging onto). However generally its happy nostalgic feelings of summer days, cicada's blaring in the background and good Kiwi music (for some reason I relate the music to summer rather than winter - which psychologists may find interesting and worthy of comment).

I can remember one particular misspent day in my youth hanging out in the old Trillo's nightclub in Downtown Auckland enjoying a cornucopia of NZ music including Tina Cross, Rob Guest, The Dudes and others. However my favourites were Citizen Band with songs such as Julia, I feel good and Rust in my Car. To date I have only been able to find their music on the great Nature's bset compilations. But today I am in seventh heaven as I have just discovered that one of their albums has been released on CD and is available through the library. Rust in My Car has all their best hits and my request has been lodged so hopefully it is winging it's way to me for the next two weeks of listening pleasure and reliving some memories.

To sample a taste of New Zealand music from this era any of the Nature's Best double albums are a great start. There is also a DVD selection and a song book for the musicians amongst you. If you want to have a look more generally at what we have, then enter a subject search for New Zealand Music and you can see everything from Brass Bands to the most up to date albums.

I will have a chat to some of the other librarians and hopefully by Friday will have a list of everyone's favourite Kiwi song to share with you on the Top 5.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Cookbooks

Despite the fact that I am on a diet, I still like reading cookbooks. I used to be a cookbook junkie but have managed to wean myself off that particular addiction (now that I have access to a whole library full of them).

It seems one of my colleagues from Auckland Central also feels the pull of the cookbook. This weeks Top 5 is courtesy of guest blogger Annie (after all who wants to blog about Black Friday today)

Top 5 cook books

I don’t understand cooking and food and all that – normally. But these 5 books make me WANT to be in the kitchen. Very odd. So, for all those non-cooks out there – you might find something in these that inspires you, too.

Edmonds cookery book
Pick an edition – any edition. I have a couple. Every home should have one. Fav recipe? Rice pudding (except, I don’t add the butter).

Shop local, eat well / Kathryn Hawkins and Laura Faire
Santa bought me this for Christmas. He did a good job. It’s about time we got back into the swing of seasonal produce.

100 great ways to use slow cookers & crockpots / Simon & Alison Holst
I *heart* my crockpot – so this is perfect for keeping it out on the bench all year round. Recommend roast beef.

The New Zealand bread book / Simon & Alison Holst
Get it out. Try out a couple of recipes. And then – if you’re like me – you’ll end up buying a copy. And making notations all over it – Alison loves it when people do that - that’s why there is so much white space in her books.

Cook in boots / Ravinder Bhogal
Santa bought this for me, too. More than three this one. What sort of girl couldn’t love a cook book with a whole chapter called ‘PMT’ dedicated to chocolate? Or hard-up food, ‘cos you’ve spent all your money on shoes? Highly recommend ‘Midnight munchie cookies’. Dare you to make a batch last more than a few days. I can’t.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

D.E.A.R. you

D.E.A.R. - Drop Everything And Read. Go on - I dare you.

As part of the NZ Post Children's Book Festival this week, today is the day we are encouraging everyone to drop everything and read. And when you look outside your window at the weather in our part of the world, you can't really argue that there is anything better to do. I ventured out at lunchtime and the wind and rain varied between horizontal or just slightly diagonal. In other words - miserable.

So pull out all those books you have from the library (or some of your own favourites from your shelves), give yourself half an hour (or more) off and indulge in a little light romance, high adventure or go on a fact finding mission. Even if it's a magazine or newspaper. Make a point to take some time to read today. When the kids get home tonight, share a book with them. They can read to you - you can read to them. It's really not that hard to take ten minutes to do this.

At the same time, put on some Kiwi music as either background or to have a sing along to for NZ Music month. Just because the sun isn't smiling, you don't have to be glum as well.

At this point I would add some recommendations, but as some of you may have already discovered we are having some computer issues today, so just pick up the nearest book and read. Apologies for any inconvenience our website issues are causing. If you have any questions, please give us a call. We are working on the problem and expect it to be back up and running by mid afternoon.

Monday, 9 May 2011

NZ Post Children's Book Awards Festival

Auckland Libraries are celebrating the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards from the 9th to the 22nd of May. There are plenty of events happening in all our libraries including special Storytimes, Big Read's, Author visits, Treasure Hunts and more.

Some of this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award finalists wil be visiting our libraries to speak about their books and illustrations.

Teens can enter the ‘And then what?!’ short story competition and win prizes.

For details of all events and the competition go to our Auckland Libraries events page.

There are some great finalists in this year's list of finalists. We have talked about them already on some of our previous blog entries so check it out earlier in April.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Where's the fire?

I found it a little more difficult than usual to find inspiration for this weeks Top 5. After my false start a week early for Mother's Day (check out the Super Six on Saturday blog post on the 30th of April, she says looking very red-faced), I could hardly use that again.

So I scanned the calendar of international events and discovered that Wednesday the 4th of May was International Fireman's Day. What a winner! After all the guys like fireman because they are action figures, dangerous and drive big trucks that make lots of noise. And the girls like fireman because, we like men in uniform.

So in honour of the brave souls who fight our fires (attend rescues, car crashes and this week, just for something different, tornadoes in Auckland) here is my Top 5 for Friday focused on our firefighters.

  1. Chasing Fire. The latest by Nora Roberts which I haven't read yet but am dying to. It goes on the list because I have become a bit of a fan of Nora and who doesn't love a romance between a couple of adrenalin junkies. Montana wildfire fighter Rowan has a strict rule: never get romantically involved with anyone she works with. But the moment she meets new recruit Gull Curry that rule is severely tested. And when it becomes clear that someone blames Rowan for her jump partner's death, and is determined to get revenge, Rowan finds that she needs Gull's help and support more than ever.

  2. "I'm a little fire engine. Flick is my name". You can tell this is going to be an eclectic (some would say eccentric) list when I follow a hot off the printer romance (every pun intended) with the traditional story of Flick the Little Fire Engine that I used to listen to on the Sunday morning request session. As well as the book and the Kit with the CD, this story is also in several different children's audio anthologies.

  3. Fire Engines You can't talk about Fires and Fire Fighters without talking trucks. So here is an entry just for the boys with books on fire engines past and present for the kids and the grownups. If you want the comprehensive book on fire fighting appliances then try The world encyclopedia of fire engines & firefighting, which has over 700 colour photos and illustrations.

  4. Fire! : the 100 most devastating fires through the ages and the heroes who fought them by Edward C. Goodman. There have been some pretty impressive but disasterous fires through history and here is one man's list of the top 100. A selective survey of some of the most destructive fires through time. It is organised chronologically and includes the progress of each fire, the stories of the victims and firefighters, and the results of the fire.

  5. You cannot ignore the fact that a glance over our romance shelves will reveal more than a few fire fighters (generally with their shirts off). Titles such as Burning Up, Fire in the Blood, The fire fighter's secret baby and Flashpoint show virtually no subtlety but these books are great escapism and an easy read. So why not indulge yourself.

Of course there are plenty more than get an honourable mention. Smoke Jumper (Nicholas Evans), Fire (Deborah Challinor's novel based on the Ballantyne fire), Flashing Fire Engines (popular picture book series by Tony Mitton) and movies like Ladder 49. Plenty of fodder here to keep you busy over the weekend and to honour our fire fighters.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

NZ Sign Language Week

This week (2nd to 9th May) is NZSL Week to help promote the language as well as raise awareness about New Zealand’s Deaf community and the issues/challenges its members face each day. New Zealand Sign Language is one of the three official languages of New Zealand.

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand would like all New Zealanders to gain a greater understanding of New Zealand Sign Language and the Deaf Community, so this year they are asking YOU to take a walk in a Deaf person’s shoes by introducing three "heroes" who tell us what their life is like as a deaf person. You can find this as well as plenty of other resources for learning NZSL on their website Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the library we have resources to help you learn more about how to live with deafness and NZSL.

Learn the New Zealand Sign Language with resources at this link. There are books, DVD's and CD-Roms to help you out.

For the deaf community we also have Storytelling and Joke collections in NZSL.

Deafness (or any sort of hearing loss) can be debilitating. But it doesn't need to be. Here are a selection of books about the different conditions and reasons why people are deaf, what can be done to aid them, and how those of us that have hearing can help.

Many of the DVD's in the Auckland Libraries collection have special subtitles for the hearing impaired. In addition to the dialogue, these special subtitles provide additional information to draw a complete picture of what is on-screen, from what song is playing in the background to describing sound effects.

NZSL is an excellent skill to have. Not only will it enable you to communicate more readily with the deaf community but from personal experience, I know more than one sports coach who can communicate with their players on court using this skill. Who would have guessed?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Is it really the end of the story?

Osama bin Laden is dead. The figurehead to many of us of all things bad and evil about the world has passed into whatever afterlife awaits him. It is the end of a chapter, but is probably not the end of the book. Why do I feel this way? Probably because I find the reaction to his death somewhat unsettling. I can't stress enought how I abhor the actions of and inspired by Osama bin Laden, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and subsequent warfare. However while on the one hand I can understand the jubilation and reaction, especially of those in America who were directly affected by tragedy, I found the scenes just too reminiscent of those many dislike and rant against from the extremists in Islamic countries. In the tit-for-tat world of punch and counter-punch, I doubt the tale of terrorism will end with Osama bin Laden's death. However that's just my personal opinion.

How did we get to this point? If sometimes the events get muddled in your mind head into your local library and grab one of the many books and other resources to help you get a fix on where it all started. Here are a few examples.

Osama bin Laden A keyword search in our catalogue results in almost 200 resources including biographies of the man, his family and how he became leader of Al Queda.

Terrorism There are thousands of resources ranging from children's non-fiction to adult, books to DVD's and also our digital resources, explaining terrorism and it's effect on the world we live in.

Islam When many people in the world think of the Islamic religion they think of extremists and the acts of terrorists. But the reality is that this is definitely not true of all Muslims. To give yourself a more balanced view, have a look at one of these resources.

September 11 For many of us where this all really began. The event and how it has impacted the years since can be found in the resources at this link.

Peace The eternal optimist in me is the reason why I have included this link to resources in the library. If the power of the words and pictures in some of these books can help make a difference then there is worth in the place of libraries in society for sharing them with you.

From the words of a 14 year old Yugoslav boy (and the title of a book reviewed for Anzac Day on this blog) I dream of Peace

Monday, 2 May 2011

May is - New Zealand Music Month

Welcome to New Zealand Music Month. When we celebrate the best of what Kiwi music, past and present, has to offer. Plus there's still an opportunity to for our future musicians to win big with Auckland Libraries.

Many of our central Auckland libraries are hosting free concerts for New Zealand Music Month. To find out where, when and what time here is the link through to our events page with the relevant information. There is music across all genres and ages from ukelele to spanish dancers, classical to jazz or hip-hop to country and western. Out west Massey, New Lynn and Waitakere Central also have free concerts and here is the link to their times.

One of the main events is the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra concert this Wednesday 4th May. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO), Auckland Libraries and Auckland Art Gallery jointly present a concert of young talent and to premiere a new piece of music composed by Callum Blackmore. The evening recital at Central City Library is a highlight of our New Zealand Music Month programme of events for 2011.

It will premiere a new composition we commissioned recently, 'DSIR Man', composed by Callum Blackmore and include performances by several other APO Young Achievers. 'DSIR Man', a piece composed for French horn and piano, was inspired by Warren Viscoe’s artwork, D.S.I.R. Man (wood and metal, 1985), currently on display at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.

Seats for the concert are limited, so book your ticket now by phoning (09) 377 0209. You can also book online or at the Central City Library (First Floor desk).

In the meantime stay tuned this month to the Blog and see what our favourite Kiwi music is.